In her adorable bungalow in Durham, North Carolina, artist and illustrator Jordan Grace Owens works in the attic, making charming illustrations of things like girls with cute bobs, cats, and her wildy successful custom paper doll series.
We’ve been fans of Jordan, her style, and her work for some time, which is why we were pleased to pay a visit to her darling bungalow for a tour. And we weren’t disappointed – Jordan and her husband, Matt, keep a clean, cozy home filled with carefully curated objects, beautiful furniture, and – of course – cuddly cats.
Illustrators, independent artists and all who seek a beautiful, inspiring home (with mid-century modern accents) take note!
Tell us about your space – where do you live, how long have you lived there, and who do you share your (beautiful!) home with?
My house is a 1928 bungalow in an old neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina. My husband, Matt, and I bought it in the summer of 2015. It’s small and charming, with a bright, open kitchen and a big backyard. I work from home, and the finished attic upstairs makes an ideal studio. We share our house with our two cats, Slaughter and Bogie, and with the two cats we found living in our backyard when we moved in. Their names are Black Bean and Fava Bean.
What was your approach when decorating your home?
Our last home was a loft apartment with white concrete floors, 14-foot ceilings, and huge industrial windows, so I had to make a big shift in my approach to decorating when we moved here. I love clean lines and minimalism, but I had to find a way to introduce those sensibilities in a quirky old house where none of the lines are entirely straight and all of the surfaces are well-worn. I made a conscious effort to pair the more modern, linear shapes I was drawn towards with softer, older pieces that felt like they fit the character of the house. It’s a balancing act, and I like the resulting contrasts.
Your home feels clean and simple, but doesn’t have that stark feeling that’s sometimes associated with minimalism. Was maintaining a clean palette important to you when it came to decorating your space?
The way I decorate my home is pretty similar to the way I dress, so I think I’m naturally drawn to a certain palette. I’m not big on color, but I love rich neutral tones. I’m also very tactile and attracted to contrasting textures and natural materials. I have to give some of the credit to the bones of the house, too. The small spaces keep things cozy, and the old wood floors will warm up any kind of sleek decor.
Let’s talk clutter. How do you avoid letting random objects accumulate around your home? Any tips for keeping clutter at a minimum?
I’m very clutter-averse. I don’t keep a lot of stuff, but I try to give everything that does come into my house an assigned place to live. Necessary junk like headphones and chargers get tucked into in pretty woven baskets, and I have a real love affair with wall hooks — I’ve hung them strategically all around the house. My husband is not quite such a neat freak, so I take it as a challenge to find elegant and convenient storage solutions for the things I consistently find laying around.
Do you have any tips for maintaining tight curation in the home?
As much as I dislike excess stuff, I’m part of a community of makers and I love surrounding myself with things that have a special origin story. I try to curate with that famous William Morris quote in mind: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I imagine my home filling up with more and more meaningful objects as I travel and get older.
A lot of your furniture and the pieces around your home are reclaimed. If you don’t mind spilling the beans, tell us where you’ve found such beautiful pieces.
We bought most of our furniture over the first few months we lived here, and most of it came from Craigslist! I like pre-owned furniture; especially the older, worn-in pieces that impart a lived-in feeling. Some of our Craigslist scores are stylish mid-century modern gems, and some are odd pieces that we picked for their character. I’m also an avid thrift store shopper, so a lot of the accessories around our home are thrifted. Since we saved a little money furnishing with second-hand goods, we were able to splurge on a couple of big ticket items, like our leather sofa.
What’s your favorite room in your home, and why?
My favorite room is the kitchen. It’s bright white, full of windows, and gets amazing light. I love that the original cabinetry survived the past 80 years, and that there’s a ton of built-in storage. We have a lot of renovation plans for the room (things like new counter tops), but even though it’s not quite the kitchen of our dreams yet, it’s still the room that makes me happiest.
p.s. If you love Jordan's home, then you should check out this gorgeous bohemian loft!